The sun also rises – at least at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Thursday for the first day of the inaugural Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. The day started out cold, with a thick, deep, drippy fog. However, Laguna Seca has its own micro climate and the sun was out well before noon, the skies were clear and it was warm! A stiff breeze in the afternoon chilled up the sunshine, but the fog’s return held off until half-way through the Participants Party at The Oasis, the island in the center of the track.

Last weekend was the Pre-Reunion with 330 cars, give or take. GILL CAMPBELL, CEO/President Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca said last Sunday that if the driver feedback was any indication, that two-day weekend was a successful run-up for this weekend. She was pleased. Campbell was even more pleased Thursday night at the party.

There are more than 620 cars entered for the four day weekend which is called A History of Motorsports. I haven’t double-checked the Entry List, which changes daily, because I can’t count that high. The paddock is so full that no support vehicles are allowed, and even staff parks outside. Those who think they can park street cars in the paddock are thinking again. The tow trucks have been busy.

Gurney Alley Flag
Gurney Alley Flag. Photo by Lynne Huntting
The layout grid in the paddock uses letters to define each row, and this year something new has been added. Each aisle is named for its letter, such as Earnhart Expressway, Gurney Alley, etc. Each ‘street’ flies a large decorative explanatory banner/flag.

The Rolex Reunion is honoring DAN GURNEY – The Cars He Built, The Cars He Drove. Wednesday afternoon was what is sometimes called The Class Photo. Twenty or so of Gurney’s significant cars lined up in Turn Three for a Photo Op. In the paddock there is a huge walk-through marquee tent which was being set up Thursday with a display of Gurney’s cars. You can’t miss the tent – it’s white and has Gurney’s emblematic eagle logo emblazoned on the archway.

Among the Gurney cars on display will be Can-Am, Formula One, Formula 5000, Formula Ford, Indy, NASCAR, sports cars, and Trans-Am.

Gurney race cars in marquee
Gurney race cars in marquee. Photo by Lynne Huntting

Dan’s son ALEX GURNEY is currently running the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series. Saturday he will drive Dad’s No.19 Eagle F1 race car for exhibition laps. His passenger will be this year’s Indy 500 winner, DARIO FRANCHITTI.

Other events this weekend built around Gurney include Saturday’s feature display tour, and picnic with Dan with a Q&A by MURRAY SMITH. Gurney will sign autographs Saturday afternoon in the feature display, and then be the official starter for the Trans-Am race. Sunday Gurney will be the official starter for the Stock Car race.

The Rolex Reunion has nineteen race groups, Nine Group A, Nine Group B, and one Group 7L for under two-liter Trans-Am cars. There’s something for everyone. All cars will be on track once on Thursday for Practice, and once on Friday for Qualifying. Saturday all the Group A cars will have a Qualifying Race in the morning and their Rolex Race in the afternoon. Sunday the schedule repeats for the Group B cars. the very tightly-packed paddock are cars of interest scattered here and there – collector cars, trucks and other vehicles not racing, but lovingly restored and worthy of a long look.

Interspersed in the very long and tight schedule are special exhibitions and lots of eye candy-of the vehicular as well as the driver kind. Most of the parade laps and commemorative events take place during the lunch break. keeping the track ‘hot’ for eight hours. This means the volunteer SFR SCCA race officials stay on post all day with lunches delivered.

Minor drama Thursday noon with a special Jaguar club photo shoot of Jaguar XKSS cars by Turn One followed by a parade lap. Wikipedia says only 16 XKSS variants were thought to be made, sold mostly to Americans, including the late STEVE McQUEEN. A fire at the Jaguar shop destroyed the remaining chassis. Twelve of those special cars were at Laguna Thursday. Eleven of the 12 took their parade lap. One of the cars had a small fire which was quickly doused, and the driver drove back to the paddock, missing the parade.